Wathsala Marasinghe, a 33-year-old hailing from the town of Mirigama, just 50 km from Sri Lanka’s capital, Colombo, once had high hopes that the progressive education and employment policies of this South Asian island nation would work in her favour. Today, she feels differently, believing that “an evil system” has let her down.
As 14.5 million Sri Lankans prepare to select their next leader, there is growing fear that violence could mar the Jan. 8 elections, billed as the closest electoral contest in the island’s history.
The kids of Kodikaman, a dusty village straddling the newly laid railway line in Sri Lanka’s northern Jaffna District, enjoy a special treat these days.
The last time there was mud on his village roads was about a year ago, says Murugesu Mohanabavan, a farmer from the village of Karachchi, situated about 300 km north of Sri Lanka’s capital, Colombo.
Back in the day when the separatist Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) ran a de-facto state in Sri Lanka’s Northern Province, alcohol consumption was closely monitored, and sternly frowned upon.
It has been four years since the guns fell silent in Sri Lanka’s northern Vanni region, after almost three decades of ethnic violence. Unfortunately peace does not mean the end of hardship for the most vulnerable people here: the women.
The camp should not have been difficult to find. We were told to drive straight on the road that leads north away from the town of Puttalam, 140 kilometres from Sri Lanka’s capital Colombo, and we would come upon the settlement of internally displaced people.